Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit Review

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Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit Publisher: Atari
Developer: Dimps and Namco Bandai

Platforms: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Goku, his son Gohan, and their many friends like to focus on conflict resolution. Whether it's a polite disagreement between friends or saving the universe from aliens and androids, they resolve conflict by beating the snot out of one another and gloating about who is the most powerful fighter in the universe.

Kyle Ackerman

Dragon Ball and the related series have been some of the most popular manga issued in Japan, and one of the top anime series to reach North America. In recent years, Dragon Ball Z especially remains an incredibly popular series – people just love watching Goku, Krillin, Piccolo, Gohan and the others fight against the likes of Vegeta, Frieza and Recoome (who strikes me as the developmentally disabled fairy godmother of football) while shouting out the non-sensical names of fighting tactics and creating massive flashes of energy.

Accessible, Not Deep

Dragon Ball Z: Burst LimitThe Dragon Ball Z fighting games have been incredibly popular – one of Atari's biggest selling franchises – and since the early games, have tried to capture the feeling of an interactive episode of the anime within a fighting game. Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is very much on par with earlier Dragon Ball Z games, but by bringing the franchise to the latest generation of consoles, brings an even higher fidelity to the action, making it feel more anime than the anime series itself.

Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit has a built-in audience – Dragon Ball Z fans. As a fighting game, Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is straightforward and would make a great entry point for those new to the genre if the plot weren't so byzantine and nearly incomprehensible to those who haven't watched the anime. At the same time, the fighting action is simplistic as fighting games go – it's fun and great for younger gamers or those just trying out the genre, but doesn't have the sophisticated depth of combos and timing that hardcore fans of the fighting genre demand.

As an introduction to the Dragon Ball Z series, Burst Limit breaks you in easy. A thorough set of tutorials helps those new to the genre, and though timing is important, the gameplay is more accessible than deep. There are plenty of powerful moves (that would be cheap tricks in more sophisticated fighting games) that can let players quickly end a combat, and these typically require only a button or two, rather than a lengthy sequence of properly timed button-presses. Furthermore, characters can transform into more powerful forms (like the Super Saiyan) or invoke auras that allow for more powerful moves or to teleport behind characters.

Even Cards Can Have Drama

The meat of Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is the "Z-Chronicles" mode. This is an incredibly long and deep story mode that consists of extended strings of individual battles, with cut-scenes surrounding the fighting action to put things into context. Fans of Dragon Ball Z will feel like they are becoming part of the animated series. People who haven't experienced the anime will just be confused, but need to play through the Z-Chronicles to unlock the mad onslaught of unlockables available in the game.

Dragon Ball Z: Burst LimitPast Dragon Ball Z games have relied on unlockables like capsules to give fighters extra power, but Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit uses "Drama Cards." These make the game feel even more like the animated series, because when a drama card is activated by certain conditions during a fight, a brief cut-scene plays (usually the relevant character declares his massive fighting prowess) and then the character receives enhancements that aid him in battle.

The Z Chronicles can be played at six difficulty levels, and really explore the entire breadth of the Dragon Ball Z universe. During that journey, it's a little irritating that every fight has to be activated individually, and requires waiting for a (sometimes long) loading screen to finish.

Battle Online With Characters Unlocked Offline

Dragon Ball Z: Burst LimitCharacters that have been unlocked in the Z Chronicles can be used in Versus mode, in which players simply fight. The Versus mode is more like that in conventional fighting games, and can be played offline with a friend or over Xbox Live. There are lots of folks to challenge online, and that gives Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit a lot of value. Unfortunately, play online can be laggy, ruining a match. Also, the easy-to-execute, ridiculously overpowered moves that make the Z Chronicles fun feel like cheap tricks when executed by an opponent online. As a result, some matches can end quickly and leave you feeling cheated.

Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is a brilliant addition to the franchise, bringing Dragon Ball Z to the latest generation of consoles and successfully immersing the player in an interactive installment of the anime series. Though its simple fighting dynamics won't draw in hardcore fighting fans, and it's extraordinarily complex (and often incomprehensible plot) will make it hard to enjoy for those who aren't already fans of Dragon Ball Z, if the sound of "Kaioken... Times Four!" is an exciting rallying cry, Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit will entertain you.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 3, 2008 6:52 PM.

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